Pokemon ORAS Showdown Triples Meta Guide
Pokemon ORAS Showdown Triples Meta Guide by M-Gyarados
Like most Pokemon players, I entered the competitive scene by playing OU on Showdown. Doubles stymied me, and Triples seemed like an impenetrable metagame. However, it doesn’t have to be hard! By learning the different mechanisms, exploring popular Pokemon, and testing out a team, anyone can get into Triples. I’m going to go over these three aspects of learning Triples and provide a sample team at the end.
Lots of mechanisms in Triples are the same as Doubles. For example, spread moves reign supreme, Guard moves are wildly popular, and speed control remains essential. There’s two main differences in Triples: shifting and range, or being able to hit a Pokemon based on the range of the move (while this includes spread moves, it has a more specific use on which I’ll go into detail). These are mechanisms not found in any other metagame. I’ll go into detail on each of these mechanisms so you can learn the basics before going into popular Pokemon and how to craft a team.
The dominant moves are almost always going to be spread moves. In Triples, spread moves hit adjacent Pokemon. If you’re in the center, you’ll hit the entire opposing field; if you’re on a side, you’ll only hit the two in front of you. (You may also hit your allies, like with Surf, or not hit your allies, like with Heat Wave. To find out whether you hit your allies, check the Bulbapedia page on your chosen move. It’ll say whether it hits allies. If you ever wonder whether a move is a spread move, you can also check Bulbapedia.)
Sylveon, the queen of Triples at nearly every level, is there because she hits hard with her premier move, Hyper Voice. Other notable moves include Earthquake, Rock Slide, Surf, Dark Void, Heat Wave, Eruption, Water Spout, Snarl, and Icy Wind. There are a ton of spread moves in Pokemon; I haven’t found a comprehensive list, so if anyone does, please let me know so I can link it!
Most popular Pokemon use spread moves to deal as much damage as possible to all opponents possible. However, base power of spread moves is reduced to 75% in Triples since it’s hitting multiple Pokemon.
Guard moves are very popular in Triples, for good reason. Since spread and priority moves are used so often, Wide Guard and Quick Guard are used to combat these techniques and render a Pokemon useless for a turn.
Notable users of Wide Guard include Conkeldurr, Aegislash, and Hitmontop. If you see these three in Triples, assume that they are carrying Wide Guard. Popular users of Quick Guard are Talonflame and Hitmontop. Although Hitmontop almost always carries Quick Guard, Talonflame isn’t as likely to have it. However, play carefully around Talonflame if you’re using a Prankster user or other priority.
Speed control is as important in Triples as it is in Doubles. Outspeeding can mean netting a KO before getting hit, which is vital in such a fast-paced metagame. There are three main modes of speed control: Tailwind, Trick Room, and Thunder Wave. Icy Wind, while not as popular as it is in Doubles, is still very important in Triples.
Tailwind doubles the speed of your Pokemon for four turns. Triples battles last even shorter than Doubles matches; four turns can be the bulk of a game. Popular Tailwind users include Suicune, Zapdos, and Togekiss.
Trick Room essentially reverses speed. Move order is reversed; the slowest Pokemon in each priority bracket goes first. This is good to take advantage of slower, bulkier, hard-hitting Pokemon like Mega Camerupt and Sylveon. The most popular Trick Room user on Showdown! is Jellicent, but Cresselia is also popular.
Thunder Wave is important because of one ability: Prankster. Meowstic-Male, a very popular Pokemon in Triples, gets Thunder Wave with +1 priority. Paralysis quarters a Pokemon’s speed and has a chance for full paralysis which makes a Pokemon unable to move for a turn. While the vastly most popular Thunder Wave user is Meowstic-Male, Zapdos may also carry it (but it prefers to carry Tailwind.)
Shifting is probably the mechanism you’ll see least in Triples, but is one of the most important. Pokemon on the edges of the board, your leftmost and rightmost Pokemon, can use their turn to Shift instead of hit and become the centermost Pokemon. This is done on Showdown! by clicking the blue “Shift” text.
Shifting can be utilized both as an offensive measure and a defensive measure. Know that a Scald is going to be directed at your centermost Mega Camerupt? Shift a faster Pokemon into his slot and soak up the four times effective move directed at him. Want to hit that Bisharp with Mega Kangaskhan’s Low Kick, but you’re on opposite ends of the board? Shift into a not very effective move or a move that won’t KO you and you can do it.
Unfortunately, I don’t know of a specific term for this phenomenon, so I call it targeting or range. This refers to the ability to hit Pokemon with specific moves. Spread moves are an example of this: Surf’s range is all Pokemon while Heat Wave’s range is opposing Pokemon.
However, there is a more specific reason to understand range. Some moves, like Brave Bird, can hit any Pokemon regardless of placement. Flying-type moves and Pulse moves can hit any Pokemon no matter where the targeted Pokemon and offending Pokemon are placed. Talonflame can be in one corner and Venusaur in the other, and Brave Bird can still hit Venusaur. Dark Pulse from Hydreigon can hit any Pokemon on the opposing team. Heal Pulse can be used on any of your allies. These are just a few examples.
Although many Pokemon in Doubles are popular in Triples, many others thrive in Triples that may not fare as well in Doubles. I’m going to be using the usage stats from here, the 1760 Battle Spot Triples ladder on Showdown!, and the data from here, the movesets/Abilities/held items from the actual Battle Spot ladder since Showdown! doesn’t share that data. (I’m focusing on the Showdown! meta because I haven’t played on cartridge much. The metas are slightly different, and they differ from Battle Spot Triples and Smogon Triples, but I’m focusing on Battle Spot Triples usage since it more closely aligns with the actual Battle Spot ladder.)
I’m going to go over the top twelve most used Pokemon in the format.
Last season, a whopping 99.1% of Sylveon ran Hyper Voice. The only reason to run Moonblast, which clocks in at 51.3% as its second most used move, is to avoid Wide Guard shenanigans. Sylveon plays the same role in Triples as it does in Doubles: to fire off Pixilate-boosted Fairy-type moves. As the highest ranked Pokemon in the ladder, you’ll face a lot of these. Come prepared with a good Steel-type. Scizor and Ferrothorn both work well. A Weakness Policy-boosted Flash Cannon from Aegislash can also deal significant damage, netting some KOs.
Another similar Pokemon from Doubles, Talonflame is here to fire off high-power priority with Brave Bird. Talonflame can hit any Pokemon on the board with its hard-hitting attack. Flare Blitz is also used, but can’t hit any Pokemon. Surprisingly, Talonflame is also a very popular Tailwind user despite its frailty. Focus Sash is used on 7.6% of Talonflames to help it get off a hit after Tailwind, but Tailwind has priority with Talonflame’s Gale Wings so it almost always gets it off at least once during the match.
Another Doubles staple, Aegislash has two primary usages: to fire off high-powered, Weakness Policy-boosted attacks and block attacks from Sylveon and other spread users with Wide Guard. When in Shield mode, Wide Guard will not expose Aegislash to his Stance Change ability, meaning he can stay in Shield mode while repeatedly firing off Wide Guards and rendering some Pokemon like Choice Specs Sylveon useless.
Although Hitmontop has shone in previous VGC seasons, his time to shine really comes out in Triples, where he consistently hits the top six. Hitmontop can utilize four of the format’s best support moves: Fake Out, Wide Guard, Quick Guard, and Feint. Many Hitmontop also run Close Combat. Feint hits through Protect, Wide Guard, and Quick Guard, rendering the turn useless. You can hit any Pokemon with Feint and break Wide Guard and Quick Guard.
Kangaskhan reigns in nearly every format. Its Mega forme can break sashes and subs and hits with 1.5x damage on every hit. Nearly every Kangaskhan in the format runs Fake Out, while most also run Double-Edge, Sucker Punch, and Low Kick. Fewer run Return to avoid recoil damage, while only 18.3% run Protect, usually in favor of Fake Out.
Surprisingly, Heatran’s most carried attack is neither of its STABs: it’s Earth Power. Despite this fact, it only nets 16.8% of its KOs with Earth Power, while it KOs with Heat Wave 50.4% of the time. (It mostly runs Earth Power to get around opposing Heatran.) If you ever have to choose between the two, run Heat Wave. However, most Heatran forgo Substitute in favor of Heat Wave, so you should never have to make that decision. Although its VGC set is usually with Substitute, you’ll only find that on 26.5% of Triples Heatran.
What makes it so useful in Doubles is what makes it so useful in Triples. Landorus-T carries a powerful Ability and STAB: Intimidate and Earthquake. Intimidate hits all Pokemon facing Landorus-T, so if he comes out in the middle, he drops each Pokemon’s attack by 1. Earthquake, while it hits your allies, hits all adjacent opponents, including the aforementioned Heatran for four times effective damage.
Again, Bisharp’s ability is what makes it so powerful. 99.5% of Bisharp run Defiant, which boosts Attack by two stages for every stage is lost in any stat. Icy Wind gives you +2, Intimidate gives you +1, and Bisharp is essentially immune to the drop from King’s Shield as Defiant immediately rases it back to neutral when it connects with King’s Shield. While most Bisharp run Adamant, there is a niche for Jolly Bisharp. However, you’ll almost always be better off running Adamant, as Bisharp won’t outspeed much outside of Tailwind.
Suicune, arguably the best Tailwind setter in the game, is popular for a multitude of reasons. For one, bulky Water is an archetype that he fills best. With a Sitrus Berry, Suicune can generally stick around for more than four turns to reset Tailwind. With Rocky Helmet, Suicune can help take down most Physical attackers. His weaknesses are not very popular types, while his resistances come in handy.
Although Charizard-X is popular in Singles, you’ll almost never see a Mega-Char-X in Triples. Instead, you’ll almost always face Mega-Char-Y, as Charizardite Y is equipped to 92.2% of Charizards in the metagame. Firing off high-powered, Sun-boosted Heat Waves is Charizard’s main role. Wide Guard is essential to protect him from incoming Rock Slides.
While Smeargle regularly fails to make the top twelve in VGC despite Dark Void, it clocks in at number eleven on the Triples ladder. 99.2% of Smeargles carry Dark Void, while Fake Out is another popular choice. Although it seems antithetical to Smeargle’s frail nature, Follow Me is the third most popular move, while Transform rounds out the top four for Fun Zone shenanigans.
Rounding out the top twelve is Greninja. Its Ability is what makes it so fantastic: every move has STAB and you can make clutch late-game choices to resist incoming moves. Although Mat Block isn’t very popular in other formats, its third-most used move is Mat Block. You’ll find 42.8% of Pokemon carrying this move, which blocks incoming attacks but does not have priority, so it relies on a speedy Greninja to get off successfully. This can be used to allow other Pokemon on your tea to set up. Although the most popular moves on Greninja are Special, a mixed set is also very effective, with Low Kick and Gunk Shot coming in at number six and number seven, respectively.
TESTING OUT A TEAM
The most important part of learning Triples is practicing. By getting your feet wet, you’ll learn how to effectively manage the board and keep the game in your favor. To get started, I suggest one of these strategies for team-building:
- Make an anti-meta team. Keeping in mind the top Pokemon and their roles, you can build a team that counters the current meta. For example, an Aegislash with Wide Guard, Flash Cannon, and Weakness Policy can counter Sylveon.
- Make a meta team. Use tried-and-true Pokemon by going off the usage stats and building a team of Pokemon who are used frequently. For example, start with a Hitmontop and build around his Feint, allowing Sylveon to fire off Hyper Voice.
- Use an established team. At the end of this post, I’ll include a link to a comment with a sample team you can use to get your feet wet. Keep an eye out for Triples RMTs, and take notes on Pokemon you face being used by established players and utilize their strategies.
Triples is a fun metagame. You get to play a lot of battles in a short amount of time and you can utilize a ton of different strategies. Not mentioned in this write-up (because I’m running out of space as it is) are strategies like Rain, Trick Room, and Round. Try a lot of different teams, ladder a bit, and retweak for maximum success. Have fun!
Here is a standard Goodstuffs team to try out! Analysis provided at the bottom and extrapolation on each member featured after their moveset.
Kangaskhan @ Kangaskhanite Ability: Scrappy EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe Jolly Nature - Sucker Punch - Double-Edge - Fake Out - Low Kick
Kangaskhan is my Mega of choice. Kangaskhan is a Pokemon that deals significant damage to nearly every Pokemon in the meta. I chose Low Kick over Drain Punch to do more damage to heavier Pokemon. If you rely on stability, however, run Drain Punch.
Landorus-Therian @ Choice Scarf Ability: Intimidate EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe Adamant Nature - Earthquake - Rock Slide - U-turn - Superpower
Landorus-Therian is a staple on all of my Triples teams. He is almost invariably one of my leads. He can U-turn out into a more favorable match-up or start firing off spread moves to deal damage to the opposing Pokemon.
Sylveon @ Choice Specs Ability: Pixilate EVs: 252 HP / 252 SpA / 4 Spe Modest Nature - Hyper Voice - Shadow Ball - Psyshock - Hidden Power [Ground]
Sylveon’s main role is to hit hard with Hyper Voice, but I threw in the other moves for coverage. Some people run Sleep Talk, but I favor the reliable damage output of Choice Specs and the ability to OHKO Heatran with Hidden Power Ground with Choice Specs. If you are good at prediction and can know when to lock yourself into Sleep Talk, I would absolutely run it and use it as a Breloom counter.
Talonflame @ Choice Band Ability: Gale Wings Shiny: Yes EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe Adamant Nature - Brave Bird - Flare Blitz - U-turn - Quick Guard
Although Talonflame is Choiced, I still run Quick Guard. Quick Guard no longer fails when used in succession, so you can spam it until you have to switch out. The rest of the moveset is obvious. I run him Shiny because I love his Shiny sprite.
Gengar @ Focus Sash Ability: Levitate EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe Timid Nature - Will-o-Wisp - Icy Wind - Shadow Ball - Sludge Bomb
Gengar is my much-needed Icy Wind and Will-o-Wisp support. Other good options include Disable, Encore, and Mega Gengar. However, don’t run a dual Mega team, as you have to bring both to the battle.
Bisharp @ Lum Berry Ability: Defiant EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe Adamant Nature - Iron Head - Knock Off - Sucker Punch - Protect
Bisharp is an absolute beast when he comes out against an Aegislash or Intimidator. Beware, he can be OHKOd by most Landorus-Therian despite not being able to OHKO with Sucker Punch, so his use as a counter is shaky at best. I maxed out his Speed because he’s too frail to invest in bulk.
This team works well (10-0 at one point) because it combines bulk, speed, and sheer power. You always want to pack as many hard hitters as possible in such a fast-paced metagame, and if it isn’t fast, it needs to take a hit.
I generally lead Talonflame, Landorus-T, and Gengar. That gives me the ability to hit only my opponents with STAB Earthquake and begin slaughtering opposing Pokemon with Brave Bird, while slowing them down with Icy Wind.
Counters to this lead are Milotic, Wide Guard Pokemon, and Aegislash. You can triple-up on Milotic and KO with a combination of Brave Bird + Earthquake + Shadow Ball, but that requires you to forgo hitting any other Pokemon except with a weakened Earthquake. If you add Hitmontop into the mix, you can break Wide Guard. Aegislash can be dealt with if you know how to play around him; be careful of King’s Shield, but Flare Blitz + Earthquake or Shadow Ball + Earthquake can take him out before he gets a chance to hit with his Weakness Policy-boosted attacks.